Executive Director Message

Margaret M.L. Byrnes

The information contained in this article is not intended as legal advice and may no longer be accurate due to changes in the law. Consult NHMA’s legal services or your municipal attorney.

Weather delays included, the majority of New Hampshire towns have completed their annual town meetings—most occur in March, with some in April and May. March 14 was the state’s official “town meeting day,” but—in what is becoming its own sort of tradition—we experienced another second-Tuesday-in March snowstorm, with some spots getting as much as 40 inches of snow. Over 50 towns followed the revised process enacted in 2019—through a collaborative effort between the state, NHMA, and local officials—for postponing town elections and meetings. For those towns that went forward with their meetings, we hope all went well (flashlights and snowmobile rides included), and for those that postponed, we were pleased to see local officials working together to make these local decisions for their communities, just as it should be.

But now the snow has melted, the first bulbs have bloomed, and the days have gotten longer—which means it’s springtime (at NHMA)! For us, springtime means "crossover" at the legislature: the date by which each chamber must act on bills originating in that chamber, and this date has come and gone. This means the House committees are holding hearings on Senate bills, and the Senate committees are holding hearings on House bills. It also means the number of bills “still alive” has been reduced significantly—although bills that were tabled are still very much alive and cannot be forgotten.  In a budget year, tabled bills, especially those that propose spending, can find themselves added into HB 2, the state budget trailer bill. And, speaking of the budget, in a surprising turn of turn of events, the narrowly divided House passed the budget (HB 1 and HB 2) on a voice vote. By the time you are reading this, the Senate Finance Committee will be hard at work considering, debating, and proposing changes to the state budget bills, inevitably culminating with a committee of conference at the end of the session.

Springtime at NHMA also means plenty of training for all local officials—whether newly elected or seasoned local officials—like our annual Local Officials workshops, Right-to-Know trainings, and a A Hard Road to Travel. In addition to our standard annual trainings, we’re always looking for ways to serve you better, considering new and different educational opportunities based on the questions local officials are asking and the challenges they’re facing. As a result, we’re gearing up to launch a new educational certificate program, which you’ll find more information about on pages 23-26 of this issue. This financial policies certificate series, which will be presented by our government finance advisor, is for local officials who want to explore and improve the fiscal operations of their city or town. The certificate program complements the updating of NHMA’s publication, The Basics of Financial Policy. The first cohort of municipal officials will begin in September.

Because financial policies and best practices are so critical to the health and success of all levels of government, this certificate series is open to all appointed and elected government officials—cities, towns, schools, counties, village districts, and state departments—although the entire series is entirely free for NHMA members!

spring flowers      Happy spring!

Margaret Byrnes

Margaret M.L. Byrnes, Executive Director